Kevin Smith had the sad news of announcing the passing of legendary actor Michael Parks on his Instagram page today. Calling Parks his muse, he related the reaction he had of first seeing Parks in the movie From Dusk Till Dawn and telling his producer and friend Scott Mosier that he wanted to work with the Yoda of acting one day. That movie ended up being Red State. Smith also wrote a part for him in his movie Tusk. Quentin Tarantino had utilized Parks in dual roles for Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. Robert Roderiguez of course used him as Sheriff Earl McGraw, a role Parks would reprise in Kill Bill and Grindhouse. David Lynch used him to great effect in the original Twin Peaks as the character Jean Renault.
While I can’t say I liked every movie I saw Mr. Parks in, I do like his work as an actor. Take Red State. I loathed that film. It was uneven at best, trying to be three different types of movies at once and failing at each turn. And whoever thought ending a movie with John Goodman giving what felt like a twenty minute monologue explaining how the movie ended when they should have just shown what happened, you know, like movies do, is beyond me. Red State should never have seen the light of day.
Having said that, Michael Parks was the lone bright spot for that movie. If Kevin Smith had spent more time focusing on his character, I may have appreciated the movie more than I did. Yet even with a terrible movie like Red State, the Michael Parks performance is a study in what a great actor can do with even the flimsiest material.
One thing you have to thank Tarantino, Rodriguez, Lynch, and Smith for is utilizing such a talented actor that for whatever reason didn’t hit the peaks he deserved. He was a man who loved acting, as seen in the roles mentioned above plus countless others. When you lose a great like this, you take the time to relive their best moments on screen, appreciating once again what made them the best at their craft. He will be missed.
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